The Guild Report:   
How Much Water is Enough?            

July 2014  
In This Issue
Point of View
Certified Green Roof Installers
How Much Watering
Mixing Perennials and Annuals
Our Pollinators
Quick Links

Point of View 
Employee Owner

Rick Fenstermaker


Why does this man look so happy?


There is a good reason.  He is retiring.  This photo was taken June 26th, his last day of work.  I spoke with Rick about his 25 year legacy at Gardeners' Guild.


Rick was hired in 1989 when Gardeners' Guild was still a small company and Linda Novy was the owner.   


"It was like family and Linda ran it like a family.  I could always talk openly with both Linda or Kevin [Davis]. Linda took my ideas and suggestions seriously.  Sometimes she adopted them."


"This philosophy is what made the company great. We thought outside of the box.  An example was starting our IPM division."


How did he decide to retire?   


"This January I gave it a lot of thought and started on a 4-day work week.  That led to my decision to officially retire in June."


What will Rick do in retirement?  


"There's a lot I want to do.  My first two months I'll relax, then I'm going to start writing a book and then I may do some traveling in Europe."  In his spare time, Rick says he will also help his sister re-landscape her yard.  


Gardeners' Guild is a
Certified Green Roof

As part of our green roof installation, Gardeners' Guild was certified.

This certification applies for both maintenance and installation.    


It includes installation of plants, soil, drainage and irrigation.   

Gardeners' Guild Our Planet
See the video on our sustainable program!


Our government has taken action by initiating a Pollinator Health Task Force. 

It will educate the public about how they can help pollinators in their own communities.

Federal agencies will also be expanding pollinator habitat on federal lands.

The EPA will assist scientists to accurately assess potential risks of certain pesticides.

USDA has announced an $8 million bill to provide funding to farmers and ranches establishing new pollinator habitats on agricultural lands.
Photo   of   Almaden  Reservoir   ,San Jose , Courtesy  of   Reuters    

Despite the Governor's request that residents cut back on their water use by 20 percent, the reality has been a stark disappointment.  A recent water board survey found that overall water use has gone up 1 percent compared with the previous three years. 

California anticipates that our drought will cost us $2.2 billion in agriculture losses this year.  A recent report also stated that farm jobs would be cut approximately 3.8 percent.  Ouch.

Our new water restrictions, up to $500 fines (per day) for excessive outdoor water use, are not a surprise given the above.

Administering the new rules could be challenging, but the Santa Clara Valley is not wasting any time.  They have considered hiring a group of "enforcers" to investigate infractions.  Yikes!

We are now restricted from applying water to pavement including sidewalks, driveways and asphalt.  Unless we have a shut-off nozzle, car washing is prohibited.  Water features must have a recirculating system or they, too are banned.  Finally, irrigation runoff onto sidewalks or streets is a no-no. 

All the best,
Gardeners' Guild Inc.
How Much to Water    
There is a lot of information out there about whether it is better to water more frequently for shorter time periods or less often for longer periods.

And, it makes a difference.  Knowing how much can also save you money.

Here are the factors you need to consider:
  • Plant type and maturity
  • Plant density
  • Sun exposure
  • Slope of the landscape area
  • Type of irrigation: spray, drip or hand watering
I've found some good tips for watering this summer.  Below are basic guidelines.  As you read them keep in mind the above factors.


Deeper, less frequent watering is best for grass as with other plants.  U.C. Davis suggests only two to three times per week. Pay attention to your sprinkler system.  If you are seeing runoff, stop! Allow time for water to be absorbed and use shorter run times.  Runoff is usually a symptom of soil compaction.  Aeration can help with that.   
The following factors make a difference:

  • Type of soil
  • Is your lawn on a slope?
  • Sun exposure
  • Other environmental factors
  • Type of grass
Brown spots?  If you are irrigating sufficiently your problem may be broken, clogged or malfunctioning sprinkler heads.

Consider - converting part of a large turf area to natives or drought tolerant plants.  We can help you with ideas.


Water twice as long (not as frequently) as a lawn.  Shrubs have deeper roots than turf and use water more slowly.  Water them about one third as frequently.  Mature shrubs will require less water.  Each shrub will differ.

Keep in mind:
  • Is your soil mulched?
  • Type of soil
  • Type of shrub
  • Sun exposure
  • Climate - is it cool, hot or windy?
Ground cover

Watering should be deep (approximately 9 inches) and less frequent. 
U.C. Davis says ground cover can survive on half the amount of water it would need under optimal conditions.
See the above qualifiers to more accurately assess your watering needs.


Plastic or glazed containers hold more water than terracotta.  If they are in a sunny location, they may need to be watered daily.  Small containers dry out more quickly.

More tips:

How to tell when its time to water: 
put your finger in the soil 1-2".  If your finger has soil stuck to it, you have sufficient moisture.

Water in the morning and your plants will be able to maximize intake.  Less chance of evaporation.

Check out this link from Marin Municipal Water District:  It publishes a weekly schedule of watering based on their forecast of weather conditions.

More tips from University of California 

Mixing Perennials and Annuals 
Planting a mix of perennials with varying growth cycles along with annuals will reduce your cost per color change and at the same time can offer plenty of curb appeal.

The key is in the different bloom cycles of the perennials.

This strategy can produce constant color and interesting texture.  Perennials require deadheading and pruning, but the effort is worth it because they last longer.   
What Happened to our Pollinators?         
There is a lot to know about our population of pollinators.  They include honey bees as well as birds, bats and butterflies.   
  • Honey bees enable the production of at least 90 commercially grown crops in North America.
  • Most of our leading international food crops are dependent on animal pollinators.  They contribute 35% of global food production.
  • Pollinators contribute more than $24 billion to our national economy.
  • They have a vital role in keeping fruits, nuts and vegetables in our diets.
  • California's almond industry requires the pollination services of approximately 1.4 million beehives annually
What happened?
  • Honey bee colonies in the US have declined from 6 million colonies in 1947 to 2.5 million.
  • Monarch butterfly populations have also been declining and sank to lowest recorded levels this winter.


It is estimated to be a combination of factors including loss of natural forage, inadequate diets, mite infestations and exposure to certain pesticides.    A phenomenon called colony collapse disorder, where there is sudden and catastrophic loss of bees in a hive may also be a cause.

See column to the left to read about solutions.